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We Are Planning To Revolutionize Nigeria’s Real Estate Industry – Idowu Lamidi, CEO, Dollar Construction Company
The CEO of fast-growing multinational construction company in Nigeria, Dollar Construction Company, Idowu Lamidi, recently shared his view on how he ventured into construction business and why he decided to build quality estates in Ibadan among many salient issues… Excerpts
Can our readers meet you?
My name is Idowu Lamidi, I started my life in Ibadan, before going to the North. I bagged my HND in Land Administration and I am currently studying Business administration in Nasarawa State Polytechnic. In Dollar Construction Company, our lives have always been on business and we are in Ibadan not just to make money, or build estates but build homes for people. Once you people have a good home, crime will reduce. For someone living in a tattered house and you are threatening such person with prison, he will even tell you that there is no difference with where he is staying and that is why when people go to prison, they come out hardened, but someone that has comfort runs away from problem. That is why an adage in English says “the owner of a glass house will not throw stone” that is why we are here.
You said you grew up in Ibadan, you were born in Ibadan, but you are from Oyo town. Why did you take your business first to Abuja before you came to Ibadan?
In the course of doing my Industrial Training in Abuja with a company, called ADCAN and it was from there that I started the company.
What brought about the name Dollar Construction Company?
In 2007, when I wanted to register the company, I and my wife trying to form name from our names but could not come up with one, then I told her that we should sleep over it When I woke up, I just tell her that the company will be called Dollar Construction Company. She said what kind of name is that and I told her that is a name that everybody would always remember.
Today, people know my company name more than they know my real name. In some area in Abuja, if you say you are looking for Idowu Lamidi, people asked you, nobody bears that name here. But once you say Dollar Construction, everybody will know that because everybody need promo and they see that currency as an achievement even today if you take one dollar which is not up to a thousand dollar, even some adults if you give it to them and you give them one thousand naira, they will prefer to take one dollar. It’s about something catchy that anybody can remember, like if you are coming to any of our estate, I’m going to dollar estate, the only question they will ask now is which of the dollar is it the dollar phase one, two or three. We make it so easy to remember.
The situation of the third phase is formerly Oyo State Trade Fair Ground, how did you acquire this kind of massive land for your project?
The land used to be for Trade Fair ground, which is under Oyo State Ministry of Commerce and Industry and it acquired Wemabodtech to build neighborhood market. When my company joined Wemabodtech, we told them this is a land locked area, and that it would only be good for building homes.
If you are planning a market, many things have to be put into consideration. Good road network must be one of the considerations and the situation must be between three or more communities. The proposed site, which is eleven hectares, is too big for a one-community market. If you look at where this land is situated, apart from Aerodrome Estate, every other thing here are like educational institution. To our left here, we have The Polytechnic Ibadan, to our right we have Aerodrome and Ventura Plaza, directly opposite us, and we have University of Ibadan. Surrounding us, there is no community as such; then who are you now building the market for? Secondly, the road to access the market is not there, you do not create local streets to access a market of this magnitude because it will cause a lot of traffic. You cannot tell people what to sell in their markets, people that will be bringing rice in trailers, people that will be bringing beans, tiles, lightening in trailers, and different kind of things. That is why you see today, iwo road is always jam-packed, it is not because of too many cars, but because of too many tucks accessing the place at a time. Look at Gbagi Central Market also, because of those trucks also coming to drop goods, they are not cars that you can just quickly reverse and move on. Before a trailer can turn, it will take nothing less than 15-20 minutes and you have like 10-15 queues to turn, you are going to have issues. We now advice that we cannot use it for market, it has to be used for residential, because one, this area again at night, it’s always like a ghost town, the schools close by six, four, three, everybody goes home, there will not be any activities. However, making it a home, by 6 o’clock, people start coming back home, it gives life to the place because when you have a home, you will have transportation system that runs 24hours around that place. It gives the police also comfort that are there that there are people who will call the police when things go wrong or if there is any crime trying to take place. If it is a market, once it is 6 o’clock, the market will short down totally that is why we now applied for change of use to the executive governor of oyo state through the ministry of land and the governor gave us the change of use and that is why we are now doing residential and not marketing.
Talking about the phases that you have, phase one, two or three, is it a strategic kind of progress for you to keep having different phases, even if the phase one is still not yet developed. What exactly are you trying to achieve by that?
To make estate ready is not all about the building alone. We may have the building and I do not have money to buy furniture because if you are moving to a new house, my mindset maybe different from yours. In Dollar Phase one, most of the houses there is completed but the owners have not moved in maybe because, some want to move in with a new car or I cannot move in with my old furniture but once you have made the road available, security, light and water, the estate is ready for you to move in. That is what we have been able to achieve in our phase one, and in our phase two, people have already moved in. If I did not move in to my house does not mean that the estate is not ready. The estate is ready but how I may look at it with this kind of hose that I might have, I need a Bentley Car to accompany the house, I need to move in at my wedding ceremony, I need to move in with this, these furnitures are too old, it now depends on you. Some people will even move in and even say it is even breakthrough for me to have finish this house. Moreover, it is not about moving phase one to phase two, I can assure you that we are going to have up to phase 5. Now, the prices of these estates are different, if you cannot afford to buy in phase one, you can go for the phase two because our phase two is cheaper, phase 3 is more expensive than phase two and phase 1. Your taste in the environment you want to live in, I keep telling people, our estate, we are going to provide same quality of infrastructure; it may not be same quality of house. In our phase 2, we allow bungalows, but in our phase one and three, nothing like bungalows. These are houses of contemporary, if you ask an architect; they will tell you contemporary houses are what we are building and not what we are used to. The phase 2 is a bit cheaper so that Civil Servants and the middle class can also afford it. Those are the reason we keep opening different phases to accommodate as much people as available that need houses.
We have seen some of your achievement in previous projects like phase one and phase two, and this one, one will be pushed to ask that how do you plan to finance this project considering the current unfavorable economic situation in the country. What is your plan for this project?
Well, financing of housing project, they say it takes community to raise a child. That is our strength and that is why you see that we do not have good car, because our priority is to deliver these estates. Our plan is to have a good road, neighborhood, a place you can raise your child, like in this estate now we always have an open space where we call green area. We also have a recreation Club house, I don’t mean night club. Like on Saturday and Sunday, you are not going out, you just stroll with to the club house with some games for the children, where adult can take cool drinks and listen to countryside music those are the things we are doing in all of our estates. All these are planned, these are not after thoughts. I always tell people that we have limited estate in Ibadan. What we have in Ibadan mostly are GRA because the property owners came together and put gate doesn’t make it an estate. This is comprehensive development, we have a clinic here, and we have everything here.
So what you are saying in essence is that what differentiates these estates is not the infrastructure bodies but there are buildings and structures.
You started in Abuja, what attracted you to Ibadan?
Yeah, our plan is to conquer the southwest because if you are doing well outside your home, it does not talk good about you. First, how many people can afford to buy our kind of houses in Ibadan? We look at that first, how many people can afford to buy same houses in Abuja? A businessperson will use that to plan. We are planning to conquer the south west to provide housing, but it may not be possible for us to build building in Oyo or in Oshogbo, Ede or in towns and villages across southwest, but it is possible to provide site and services in those area so that people now build their strength.
Dollar Construction is it only for Estates. What other things do you do there?
We are among the category B in Federal Government contractor list. We have category A which are the Dantata, Berger, Chinese, CCECC, and others. We are doing government contracts very well, year in, year out that is why you see that it is very easy for us to provide infrastructure in our estates. The only equipment we have in road construction is the spreader because it is not what we use often but we have all other equipment and it is so easy for us to build roads in our estates.
There are lot of estate/construction companies in Ibadan and some will say, buy one take one free, what stands dollar construction over all these construction companies?
Housing is something that everybody prefers. In my lifetime, I plan to have as many as possible houses because it’s one way of transferring wealth to generation yet unborn. Those people saying, buy one land and take one arm free they have their targeted audience and in which it is working for them because somebody that bought land which is 600 thousand and you give him ram that is worth 350 thousand, I think the person has his mindset tied somewhere. We are targeting our own audience. They are targeting their own audiences, that is the reason you see most of those estates will not see the light of the day because it takes a lot to build an estate, not Baale that will just sell land and call it one estate, which is still good because they are also providing services to people. If you that can buy land of N100million, I do not think ram will be your priority. However, it is nothing out of place to appreciating our clients by getting those gifts during festive periods but your primary reason of buying property with us is not for ram.
Having successfully exhibited the previous estates the phase 1, what is your mega plan for year 2023?
What develops cities mostly, not just the housing. When we have good houses and nobody to live in it, it does not make sense or so. Our mega plan for 2023 is that we want to make industrial layout. Oyo-Ibadan road at least we should have so many industrial lay out there, Lagos-Ibadan, we should have a lot of industrial lay out so that we can have industries coming in and that will make our houses affordable, because if I’m working in a good place and the company can provide affordable housing, my problem is half solved. Our houses are very affordable with the kind of amenities that come with it. There are houses for N3billion, N5billion, in Lagos, Abuja, I have build house that I have sold for N3.5billion before, N1.4billion before and almost N2billion before. If we are having same kind of structure that is much lesser here, I do not think it is not affordable. We are into site and services, which means that you have gotten your land, and we’ve made the infrastructure, street light, water system, perimeter fencing and you sell to people in plot maybe 500, 600 and individuals build what they feel like, that is what is called site and servicing.
One of the challenges faced in real estate not only in Oyo State but in every other place is scandal…how have you been able to be scandal-free? And, how have you been able to be free from the ‘omo onile’ factor?
Experience has taught us a lot of lesson, even people buy property from us knows that we have a milestone payment plan. If the person dies in the process, in all our form, we have the next of kin to the person on it. We will contact the next of kin of such person. It doesn’t allow us have issues, and when the issues are cleared, everyone hands off. For us now, all our offices are always at the site, you come to us at the site, and you meet us at there so that you can easily know quickly if anything is happening. For every site we have sold, we also report it to EFCC. Every month we report our transaction back to EFCC to know who own the site or house. Our workers know so it will be difficult for you to say that person is no longer the owner of the house because there will be too many testimony against you. When we are selling house to you, we give you speculation and it is not that you will just buy the land and you will now run to Abuja and say maybe after 20years you will come and resell it, we will revoke it. We have not had issues of selling land to one person and we say this land does not belong to one person again, we can revoke If we sell land to you and we give you payment plans and you default 3 times. We will revoke and it shows that you do not have capacity for that kind of project and there will not be any need to embark on it.
How do you stay focused with what you are doing?
I started real estate at a very tender age, when I was just 24 years old. I have worked with some big companies in the real estate sector before I started my company. I believe that the greatest enjoyment is for someone to sleep and this is what I do, and if I see one bottle of cold drink, I can take if the opportunity provides itself.
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